In 2004, a group of college students pulled off an art heist at Transylvania University. AMERICAN ANIMALS retells the story of the crime, but boldly says in the beginning, this is not based on a true story, this IS a true story. This movie brilliantly weaves in a literal first person perspective into the narrative, with the real life counterparts appearing to tell their accounts of the story. It’s an awesome storytelling device that I’m sure has been done before, but I haven’t seen yet. (Please educate me!) My only wish was for them to have more fun with that aspect, since the whole affair seems pretty ridiculous. It was a plan hatched by two young, bored white college kids, who absorbed two more into the scheme.

Unlike the OCEAN’S movies or other heist movies like it, ANIMALS isn’t concerned with surprising the viewer. It lays out its plan plainly, but is more interested in how the main two culprits, played by Evan Peters (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, “American Horror Story”) and Barry Keoghan (DUNKIRK, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER), semi-seriously made the plan and how they eventually dove into it completely. The movie doesn’t go to the extremes that I always want these movies to reach, but the main set piece still manages to be thrilling and face palm-inducing, albeit in a good way.

AMERICAN ANIMALS doesn’t really stick the landing, nor does it ever really find its footing in the first place. There’s still a lot of dark laughs to be had, with a few solid sequences. This movie lacks color in a cinematographic sense and people sense, but is an interesting character drama. It doesn’t reach potential with the use of differing perspectives, but when it drives in that fact, it’s too little too late.


(Refer to my rating system HERE!)